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Presenters

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Fred Niedner

Frederick Niedner taught biblical studies and Hebrew Language in Valparaiso University’s Department of Theology from 1973 to 2014. For stretches during those years he also filled staff roles in Valpo’s Chapel of the Resurrection, served as preaching assistant or interim pastor for congregations in northwest Indiana, and taught in LSTC’s D.Min. in Preaching program. He grew up in Wyoming and Nebraska, earned his M.Div. and S.T.M. at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and completed his Th.D. at Christ Seminary—Seminex (1979). As a Senior Research Professor, Fred remains involved in Valpo’s Institute of Liturgical Studies and the work of the Lutheran Diaconal Association, and he regularly contributes to publications that support the ministry of preaching.

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Doug Oakman

Douglas E. Oakman is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) where he served on the faculty beginning in 1988. Prior to that he taught at schools in the San Francisco Bay area. He was PLU Chair of Religion from 1996-2003, and Dean of Humanities from 2004-2010. A graduate of the University of Iowa (1975) and Christ Seminary-Seminex (1979), Oakman received a Ph.D. in Bible from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA (1986).

Oakman was a founding member of The Context Group (1990) and is the author of six books integrating the social sciences into biblical studies including Jesus and the Economic Questions of His Day (1986); the award-winning Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts (co-author K. C. Hanson 1998; 20082); Jesus and the Peasants (2008); The Political Aims of Jesus (2012); Jesus, Debt, and the Lord’s Prayer (2014); and The Radical Jesus, the Bible, and the Great Transformation (2021).

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Kathryn Kleinhans

The Rev. Dr. Kathryn “Kit” Kleinhans is Dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio. Prior to being called to Trinity, she taught from 1993-2017 in the Religion and Philosophy Department of Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, where she held the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission.

Kleinhans earned a BA in Theology from Valparaiso University, an MDiv from Christ Seminary – Seminex and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and a PhD in Theological Studies from Emory University.

A fifth-generation Lutheran pastor, she was ordained in 1985 by the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. Her first call was to the Lutheran Church of the Atonement, Atlanta, Georgia.

She and her husband Alan Schulz, a retired ELCA pastor, are the parents of two adult sons, Christopher and Paul.

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Martin Seltz

Martin A. Seltz is a retired ELCA minister of word and sacrament. Most recently he served the ELCA’s publishing ministry in Minneapolis (Augsburg Fortress, now 1517 Media,1994-2023) as vice president and publisher for congregational resources, with responsibilities that included the Evangelical Lutheran Worship family and its 2020 supplement All Creation Sings, as well as other worship resources from With One Voice (1995) onward. At Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis (2001-2022), he served as one of the cantors. Martin is a graduate of Concordia Senior College (1973), Christ Seminary–Seminex (1977), and the University of Minnesota (1979). He served congregations in Michigan and Minnesota as pastor and cantor. He has also served in leadership roles with the North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL), Lutheran Summer Music and Academy, the Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valparaiso University (ILS), and the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. He has received NAAL’s Berakah Award, the Faithful Servant Award from the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the Christus Rex Award from ILS, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and the Loehe Award from Wartburg Theological Seminary.

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Peter W. Marty

Peter W. Marty serves as senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, a 3500-member congregation in Davenport, Iowa, and editor/publisher of The Christian Century, a journal devoted to shaping America’s conversation about religion and faith in public life. He writes a monthly column for the Century.

A frequent preacher and speaker at churches and conferences across the country, Marty has written numerous articles related to culture, character, and faith issues in our day. He is the author of The Anatomy of Grace (Augsburg Fortress, 2008). From 2004-2009, he served as host of the national radio broadcast, Grace Matters.

In 2010, the Academy of Parish Clergy named him “Parish Pastor of the Year,” an award recognizing leadership excellence and faithfulness in congregational development.

Peter has preached in some of America’s more notable pulpits including Washington National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, and Yale University. From 2010 to 2016 he served as the lead columnist for The Lutheran magazine. In 2009, he was named the visiting Hoskins Fellow at Yale Divinity School.

Peter Marty has served on various hospital, college, foundation, and community boards. He has served as narrator for different faith broadcast documentaries. Marty is a one-time fellow of the Fund for Theological Education, past member of the Louisville Institute’s Pastor’s Working Group, and a former participant in the Duke Project for the Study of Ministry.

He is a graduate of The Colorado College and Yale Divinity School, and was the recipient of an honors fellowship in history for study at Oxford University.

Peter W. Marty has piloted interfaith dialogue events, been active in anti-hate group efforts, and served on different ecumenical ministry boards. On the St. Paul church campus he leads a pastoral residency program funded, in part, by the Lilly Endowment Inc. This program, designed for fostering pastoral excellence, is the only such program in the country situated in a Lutheran Church setting.

He is the recipient of two honorary doctorates. Peter is married to Susan and they have two adult children.

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David Beckmann

David Beckmann is one of the foremost U.S. advocates for people struggling with hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. David divides his time between advocacy on public policy and teaching effective strategies to connect faith to the politics of poverty.

He is Coordinator of the Circle of Protection, an anti-poverty advocacy coalition of church bodies and agencies which has helped to protect and strengthen poverty-important programs in the massive bills through which Congress now does most of its work. In response to the threat of Trump-style MAGA Republicanism, he is now also active in supporting Democratic candidates.

Based at Virginia Theological Seminary, he is learning – about the spirituality of religiously unaffiliated people, for example – and teaching at the seminary and more widely.

During David’s 28 years as president of Bread for the World (1991-2019), it grew to a network of two million people and 3,000 local churches. He was awarded the World Food Prize for his leadership to increase and improve international aid and its contribution to the dramatic reduction of world hunger and poverty in recent decades.

Before he moved to Bread for the World, David was a World Bank economist (1976-1991). He led the World Bank’s initial engagement with NGOs and community organizations around the world.

David graduated from Yale College and earned master’s degrees from the Lutheran School of Theology and the London School of Economics. He has been awarded eight honorary doctorates.

David is married, with two adult sons and four grandchildren.

Responders

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Joan L. Beck

Joan Beck’s remarkable life journey unfolds as a narrative of deep faith, commitment to service, and a perpetual pursuit of knowledge and experience. Graduating from Valparaiso University in 1973, Joan’s path led her to the M.Div. program at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Immersed in the seminary environment, she not only lived on campus but actively participated in impactful initiatives like “Operation Outreach” and played a pivotal role in the establishment of Seminex. Her vicarage in Denton, Texas, supported by ELIM, showcased her dedication to hands-on ministry.

Completing her seminary studies at Luther Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1978, Joan’s journey took an interlude as she patiently waited six years for her first pastoral call to an ALC congregation in Eugene, Oregon. During this hiatus, she earned an M.A. in Rhetoric and Communication at the University of Oregon, adding an academic dimension to her multifaceted life. It was also during this time that Joan welcomed her first children into the world.

Joan, alongside her husband John Beck, has been a steadfast presence in ELCA ministry, serving congregations and campus ministries across western Oregon, Chicago, and north of Seattle. Their shared commitment to the church led to a re-retirement at the end of August 2023. 

Now residing in NE Portland, Oregon, the couple is in the midst of a joyful experiment, discovering new possibilities for their time. Despite the absence of grandchildren, Joan and John find joy in the love and companionship of their three adult children.

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Jane Buckley-Farlee

Jane Buckley-Farlee is a ’79 graduate of Seminex. Having attended Concordia, Milwaukee (’73) and Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne (’75) Jane is the only woman to have gone through the Missouri Synod system. Since 1996 she has been serving Trinity Lutheran Congregation in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, MN. Cedar-Riverside is a neighborhood with the largest concentration of Somalis outside of Somalia and is nicknamed Little Mogadishu. As the only Christian congregation remaining in a diverse neighborhood of 8,500 residents Trinity finds itself in a unique context as a minority in a community that is largely Muslim together with university students and a few burnt out hippies. This has given the congregation and Jane the opportunity to grow in faith in ways neither anticipated. Publications include: “Sent as Host and Guest in Little Mogadishu” Liturgy, April 10, 2020. “Accompaniment, Trinity-Style: Lutherans and Muslims in Cedar-Riverside,” More Than a Cup of Tea: A Generation of Lutheran-Muslim Relationships,” 2021. “Wind,” Christian Century, August 2023. Website: “Seeing God in Little Mogadishu.” Jane is married to Robert Buckley Farlee and together they have two grown sons, Noah and Micah and share their home with an opinionated cat.

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Robert Buckley Farlee

Robert Buckley Farlee (Seminex: M.Div. 1976, S.T.M. 1979) is a retired pastor and cantor living in Minneapolis. For 41 years he served in pastoral and musical capacities at Christ Church Lutheran there. For about half of that time, he shared cantor duties with Martin Seltz. The two of them also worked together as worship and music editors at Augsburg Fortress, including on the development of Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Farlee has also been very active as a composer for the church, creating service music, hymn tunes, organ and choral music. He has served as president of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, has been honored by the Institute of Liturgical Studies and LSTC, and in 2018 was invited to present lectures in Tokyo to clergy of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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Rev. Michael D Fick, Pastor

The Rev. Michael Fick (B.A. Valparaiso University, M.Div Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) has served as pastor at Ebenezer since 2011. Serving neighborhood churches in Denver and Chicago, he lives in Andersonville and loves serving this vibrant part of the city. In addition to his service at Ebenezer, he’s written for The Christian Century and other publications. He enjoys music and singing, his dogs Melvin and Isabelle, and spending time with friends and family.

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Eric Jensen

Eric Jensen (he/they) Originally from Wichita, KS, Eric was raised in the ELCA. They hold a master’s degree in Architectural Design & Community Planning from Kansas State University, served in Argentina for a year with the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program, and are a master of divinity student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Eric is in the candidacy process for Word and Sacrament Ministry in the ELCA and is currently on a final year internship at First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Waltham, MA.

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Rev. Bruce K Modahl

Bruce K Modahl, MDiv Seminex, ThM Princeton Seminary, DMin Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He served churches in St. Louis, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Tampa. He was called to Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois in 1998 and retired in 2014. His book The Banality of Grace was published in 2019. He is the co-author with F. Dean Lueking of Sermons of Consequence. He has written essays and text studies for a variety of publications including The Christian Century and Sundays and Seasons. He currently edits Crossings Connection, the newsletter of the Crossings community, founded by Seminex professors Bob Bertram and Ed Schroeder.

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Gary Simpson

The Reverend Dr. Gary M. Simpson was named The Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary Chair of Theology in 2014 at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He has been Professor of Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary since 1998 where he had been Associate Professor of Systematic Theology since 1990. His primary teaching areas have been Christian doctrine; the Lutheran Confessions; public theology and social ethics, including courses on Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and congregational leadership. He has served numerous faculty positions including Chair of the History/Theology Division; Chair the Board of Luther Seminary’s Word & World journal; Chair of the Faculty Concerns Committee; Faculty Representative to the Seminary Board of Directors; Faculty Marshall; and Faculty Parliamentarian. 

Prior to coming to Luther Seminary Simpson was Associate Pastor of The Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Portland, Oregon (1983-1990) and prior to that he was Associate Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alameda, California (1976- 1983). He also served for two years as Minister of Youth and Adult Education at St. Charles Christian Church, St. Charles, MO. He was awarded the Doctor of Theology degree “with distinction” in 1983 by Christ Seminary—Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri where he also received the Master of Divinity degree in 1976. Professor Simpson has published four books—Reciprocity and Political Theology (UMI Dissertation Series, 1983); Critical Social Theory: Prophetic Reason, Civil Society, and Christian Imagination (Fortress, 2002); Living Out Our Callings (Centered Life Series, 2006); War, Peace and God (Fortress, 2007)—and he has a long-term writing project, Luther’s “Learn Cicero”: The Ciceronian Impulse in Martin Luther’s Approach to Moral Reason (Wipf & Stock, Forthcoming). 

He has also published seventeen chapters in published monographs and thirty-six essays in various journals. He has been the keynote speaker at Lutheran World Federation gatherings, at Lutheran Services in America annual meetings, and at the Association of Professors of Missiology. He has presented papers at the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Christian Ethics, the American Society of Missiology, and the Association of Professors of Missiology. For many years Simpson was the Managing Editor of Dialog: A Journal of Theology. He has lectured widely both in the United States and in Canada, Indonesia, Slovakia, Ireland, Germany, and Tanzania. 

He has taught and advised numerous doctoral students who hold academic positions, seminary presidencies, and national bishoprics in the US, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Liberia, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Slovakia, India, Malaysia, and Myanmar. As a parish pastor Simpson was an influential leader in Oregon, serving on the Board of Directors of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and as Chair of its Witness and Life Commission; as the Moderator of SnowCAP, Oregon’s largest direct food security program; as the Co-founder of the Jewish-Christian Association of Oregon; as the Vice-President of the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center; and as Chair of the Oregon Governor’s Commission on Hunger, which changed the face of hunger in Oregon. 

He has been the President of Minneapolis’s neighborhood organization, Citizens for a Loring Park Community (six years); has served on the City of Minneapolis’s Public Engagement Task Force; and is a member of the Minneapolis Advisory Committee on Aging. 

Gary Simpson has received numerous grants, fellowships, and awards: Theodore Graebner Graduate Fellowship; a Lutheran Brotherhood Sabbatical Fellowship; a National Endowment for the Humanities/Naval Academy Grant; a Lilly Endowment/Wabash Center Grant; Resident Member, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ; and the 2021 Faithful Servant, Distinguished Alumni Award, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. 

In 2023 Lexington Books/Fortress Academic has published two volumes of essays in honor of Professor Simpson’s career as a teacher, scholar, writer, and advisor under the editorship of Samuel Yonas Deressa and Mary Sue Dreier: Forming Leaders for the Public Church: Vocation in Twenty-First Century Societies and Theology and Ethics for the Public Church: Mission in the 21st Century World.

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Baiju Markose

Dr. Baiju Markose is a Scholar in Residence at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He is an alumnus of LSTC, graduating with a Th.M. degree in 2016 and a Ph.D. in Theology/Anthropology with distinction in 2019. Previously, Dr. Markose served as a Professor of Religion and Dean of Studies at the Dharma Jyothi Vidya Peeth Seminary in Faridabad, India. He also worked as Auxiliary Faculty at the Gurukul Lutheran Seminary in Chennai. In addition to his academic achievements, Dr. Markose is an accomplished writer with notable publications such as “Notes from the Edges: Theological Intonations” (2021) and “Rhizomatic Reflections: Discourses on Religion and Theology” (2018). He was honored with the Marion McFarland Award by the American Academy of Religion (Midwest Region) in 2017. Having previously been ordained in the Mar Thoma Church, Dr. Markose dedicated eighteen years to various ministerial roles before becoming a member of The Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. He devotes his time to the OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership, where he engages in interfaith peace-making and climate justice initiatives.

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Rev. Jason Walstrom

Pastor Jason Walstrom serves as Pastor of Holy Nativity. He has previously served congregations in Lake Benton and Blaine, both in Minnesota. Prior to ordination, Pastor Jason attended the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and the University of Chicago. He currently lives in Crystal with his wife Ann, two children, and a dog.

Pastor Jason takes great joy in teaching and preaching and especially appreciates the people of Holy Nativity and their willingness to learn and explore new opportunities to serve our community. He is excited to see where the future will take the congregation as we continue to work at serving our neighbors.

In his spare time, Pastor Jason enjoys watching the Twins and Cubs, cooking, playing video games, and collecting and listening to records on vinyl.

Preaching Minister

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Bishop Yehiel Curry

Bishop Yehiel Curry of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod has had a long and fruitful association with the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Region 5 Bishops’ Representative, holding membership on the Administration and Finance Committee. 

He is one of three board leaders who along with President Nieman will be participating this March in a Wise Stewards Seminar focusing on board governance through the In Trust Center for Theological Schools. He also participates in LSTC life in a variety of other ways, including guest presentations in classes, preaching in the Augustana Chapel, participating in the Jewish-Lutheran dialogue group at LSTC, mentoring students, and consulting with faculty and administration on the church’s leadership needs. 

Bishop Curry is a frequent speaker and panelist at special events at LSTC, including most recently at Homecoming 2021, where he participated on a panel on “Equity, Eco-Healing, and Human Health.” His vision and commitments resonate well with the public church values that LSTC lifts up. Prior to his election as Bishop in 2019, Bishop Curry was a pastor at Shekinah Chapel Lutheran Church in Riverdale, IL (2013-2019), where previously he had worked as a mission developer (2007-2012). Shekinah Chapel’s origins go back to a youth development and mentoring program for African American youth in the South Side, Safe in My Brother’s Arms (SIMBA). It was through his involvement in this initiative of the ELCA that Bishop Curry became affiliated with the denomination. 

Bishop Curry completed the TEEM (Theological Education for Emerging Ministries) program at LSTC in 2009 and went on to earn the MDiv degree in 2013. Since then, he has encouraged LSTC to further develop the TEEM program, resulting in the formation of two TEEM cohorts currently going through the program. He is the founder and advisor of Riverdale Organized for Change (ROC), which addresses inadequate sewer systems causing flooded basements in Chicago’s south suburbs. He also serves on the Policy and Organizing Board for the Community Renewal Society in Chicago. Bishop Curry is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his achievements and dedicated service, including among others LSTC Emerging Voice Distinguished Alumni Award, Metro Chicago Synod Strategy Team Spirit of Timothy Award, and ELCA Youth Ministry Network Tom Hunstad Award. 

He earned his BA from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL and worked in social services and taught sixth grade social studies for a number of years after college. Bishop Curry and his wife LaShonda Curry have three daughters, Shemiah, Ashirah, and Shekinah. LSTC is delighted that Shemiah Curry is following in her father’s footsteps as a student in the MDiv degree program.

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